Friday, April 30, 2004

I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing out punchlines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls
Crashing to the ground

-- REM, The Great Beyond

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Perth by Ong Lay Jinn a.k.a. Djinn, was average. Nice effort, but an unfocused and rambling movie, with not a few inconsistencies and stilted dialogue. The screening was made worse by the constant power trips in the building that interrupted the film several times.

Lim Kay Tong gave a decent performance, but the stage veteran had an atrocious accent. He sounded like a cardboard Italian don half the time while the other half was spent straining (and failing) to prevent his usual British-tinged diction from slipping out.

Sunny Pang's and Victory Selvam's performances were the best part of the movie, imho. Both flesh their roles out admirably with flair and panache, considering that they had secondary roles based on stereotypes: Pang as a gangster and Selvam as an old army buddy of Lim's character.

I really, really wanted this movie to be good. But it was so-so, at best. :(

Finished Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Chabon is hardly economical with his words. The prose is extremely descriptive and florid, the profusion of long latinates and unusual metaphors threatening to crowd themselves off the page. The result is a vividly imagined, well-written blend of history, fiction and changing zeitgeist. It's a good book to travel with -- short chapters, undemanding of the reader.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Takeshi Miike's Gozu is weird. Just damn weird. Funny, surreal and the strangest film I've ever seen.

Took the day off to sleep. Got up and watched Otomo Katsuhiro's Roujin Z on DVD :P The aged issue is always relevant of course -- maybe that helps explain why 13 years on, the film still hasn't lost any of its ridiculous, satirical bite.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Watched Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, back to back on Friday night/Saturday morning. Took the first train home. Am still suffering from sleep deprivation.

But it was worth it. Every minute. Vol. 1 looked better the second time 'round, somehow. Vol. 2 is very different. Not as zany. More a homage to '60's and '70's Westerns. The Pai Mei scenes were hilarious and closer to Vol. 1. Gordon Liu plays Pai Mei (a distillation of eccentric, grumpy, funny and amazingly-skilled curmudgeonly kungfu masters) to a T. Tarantino's knack for dialogue comes to the fore here and the uncanny fusion of violence and the mundane, a sense of poetic justice and more fine acting from Uma Thurman make Vol. 2 every bit as good as the first.

My Saturday was spent in a sleep-deprived funk.

More film on Sunday afternoon. Ai Nu (lit. "Love Slave" but somehow the film got saddled with the burdensome "Intimate Confessions Of A Chinese Courtesan" for an English title.) was screened as part of the Film Fest, under a series of erotic Shaw films from the 1970s. Very little character development, fight scenes were a nice touch but the main focus was the revenge theme that have been lifted right out of a pulp novel. The sex and S&M was mostly implied which led to some cheesy (by our standards today) transitions and abrupt cuts. What was shown however, was probably shocking for its time. Some female frontal nudity and lesbians kissing and so on.
Reactor No. 4 at Chernobyl blew up on this day 18 years ago, in 1986.

A biker travels through what is left: a photo journey.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Gnocchi Sauton! #61

I don't want a toaster.

"I don't want a toaster."

Generally, things (like this quiz) tend to tick you off. You have contemplated doing grievous bodily harm to door-to-door salesmen.

Which Weird Latin Phrase Are You?
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Vitamin F was underwhelming. Some intriguing scenarios and few cliches, but almost no drama at all and mostly amateur acting. Even Yakusho Koji can't rescue the episode he's in (Setchan), although his character will become somewhat of a role model for all otaku ^_^
Neurosurgeon, Writer, Activist, Singaporean

Gopal Baratham passed away two years ago today.


A Retrospective

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

And while we are on the subject of helplessness in the face of unprecedented masses and masses of people thronging and crowding and getting in our damn way everyday and everywhere in our lives --

Vibrator wasn't bad at all, but not fantastic. Terashima Shinobu gave a convincing performance as a lonely woman confused to the point of terror by human communication, while Ohmori Nao's truck driver was slightly goofy and sweet. The music wasn't very appropriate: mostly Sheryl Crow-wannabes. I think it's a good film, but there's something about it that I can't place but that stops it from being great. Like someone put saccharine in my tea.
Finished You Shall Know Our Velocity yesterday.

We run to escape ourselves, because we don't know what else to do.

I love the way the title trips off the tongue so easily -- "YOU SHALL KNOW OUR VELOCITY!" It should be said in so many different ways.
Kill Bill 2: A Bluffer's Guide

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Zatoichi is great. It's not meant to be traditional chambara so don't see it that way. Excellent fight sequences, good characterisation and best of all the film never takes itself too seriously. The sub-plot with the siblings drags for a bit though. You can spot the shoddy CGI too -- all the blood-spatter is CGI! -- a mile away. That's probably the most obvious flaw.
I remember when I found out about chemistry
It was a long, long way from here
I was old enough to want it but younger than I wanted to be
Suddenly my mission was clear

So for awhile I conducted experiments
And I was amazed by the things I learned
From a fine fine girl with nothing but good intentions and a
Bad tendency to get burned

All about chemistry
Won't you show me everything you know
Ah wonder what you do to me
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, oh

--- Supersonic, Chemistry

Was busy, so no time to blog about Sunday on Monday. Another half-day of volunteering at the Film Fest on Sunday.

The Corporation: Slick production examining the excesses of corporations. It was fun to show by the WHO's criteria, corporations would be complete psychopaths if they were real people. What I liked most was that the documentary took pains to show that the roots of most of the problems about corporations can be found in the way they have been defined by man-made laws. No crude moralising here, but did get polemic towards the end. Propaganda for my side. If you liked Naomi Klein's No Logo, you will enjoy this.

Watched some of Fallon, Nevada. Dead boring.

Final Solution was banned at the last minute. Award-winning, controversial, banned.

Shame on our censors for taking the easy way out. Clearly the only racial conflict people can think about are the ones sanctioned by MOE. Shame


Before that, I wandered around Clarke Quay. Picked up a brand-new paperback copy of Oryx and Crake for $10, and a 2nd hand copy of the Jackie Brown OST. The CD's a Japanese edition, and there's an insert with all the song lyrics and dialogue snippets transcribed (sweet!) and a commentary on all the tracks, in Japanese. Will sit down one day and figure all that out.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

My first ever day of volunteering at the Singapore Int'l Film Festival. A Saturday with scorching sunshine spent mostly indoors at the Singapore History Museum. I need sleep. Will be brief.

KAFA Animations: My favourite was The Letter. Surreal and quietly humourous. The unnamed male narrator sends letters to his ex-girlfriend, pouring his feelings out in the hope that she'll return to him. The local post office is staffed by only one person, and all Ami does is stamp envelopes. Actually, she's been opening the narrator's letters, reading them, and falling in love with him. Then their little unnamed town is suddenly infested with benevolent, mail-eating dinosaurs.

Cosmic Tree was also excellently drawn and animated.

Fear Factor (Star Galaxy): One in a series of documentary shorts that focus on the recent Indonesian elections. Star Galaxy focuses on the activities of a dangdut group that performs for all the major parties. This short was screened as part of the launch of a book about the work of Indonesian New Wave director Garin Nugroho. Nugroho is actively nurturing a new generation of directors through projects like Fear Factor (which he produced), and he talked about his experiences in dealing with film censorship and oppression during the Suharto years.

Parasite Dolls: I took off in the afternoon to catch this with David. Too bad it was a dud. Mediocre plots, quality of animation above average but I expected nothing less. Hope the filmfest people get a better anime offering next year!

Morning Sun: 2 hour documentary about the Cultural Revolution. Nothing that I didn't know from classes, but I loved the extensive media footage used throughout the film. I also liked that the interviews with leaders who were persecuted during that period and with their children, which helps to reinforces the film's thesis of misguided, uncontrolled youthful fanaticism. The sense of religious fervour mixed with rock-star idolatry that fueled the excesses of the Cultural Revolution is crystal-clear in this polished effort.

Friday, April 16, 2004

The New York Times, April 13, 2004


Solitude and the Fortresses of Youth


SAN FRANCISCO � Earlier this month my local paper, The San Francisco Chronicle, reported that a college student had been expelled from art school here for submitting a story "rife with gruesome details about sexual torture, dismemberment and bloodlust" to his creative writing class. The instructor, a poet named Jan Richman, subsequently found herself out of a job. The university chose not to explain its failure to renew Ms. Richman's contract, but she intimated that she was being punished for having set the tone for the class by assigning a well-regarded if disturbing short story by the MacArthur-winning novelist David Foster Wallace, "Girl with Curious Hair." Ms. Richman had been troubled enough by the student's work to report it to her superiors in the first place, in spite of the fact that it was not, according to the Chronicle, "the first serial-killer story she had read in her six semesters on the faculty at the Academy of Art University."

Homicide inspectors were called in; a criminal profiler went to work on the student. The officers found no evidence of wrongdoing. The unnamed student had made no threat; his behavior was not considered suspicious. In the end, no criminal charges were brought.

In this regard, the San Francisco case differs from other incidents in California, and around the country, in which students, unlucky enough to have as literary precursor the Columbine mass-murderer Dylan Klebold, have found themselves expelled, even prosecuted and convicted on criminal charges, because of the violence depicted in their stories and poems. The threat posed by these prosecutions to civil liberties, to the First Amendment rights of our young people, is grave enough. But as a writer, a parent and a former teenager, I see the workings of something more iniquitous: not merely the denial of teenagers' rights in the name of their own protection, but the denial of their humanity in the name of preserving their innocence.

It is in the nature of a teenager to want to destroy. The destructive impulse is universal among children of all ages, rises to a peak of vividness, ingenuity and fascination in adolescence, and thereafter never entirely goes away. Violence and hatred, and the fear of our own inability to control them in ourselves, are a fundamental part of our birthright, along with altruism, creativity, tenderness, pity and love. It therefore requires an immense act of hypocrisy to stigmatize our young adults and teenagers as agents of deviance and disorder. It requires a policy of dishonesty about and blindness to our own histories, as a species, as a nation, and as individuals who were troubled as teenagers, and who will always be troubled, by the same dark impulses. It also requires that favorite tool of the hypocritical, dishonest and fearful: the suppression of constitutional rights.

We justly celebrate the ideals enshrined in the Bill of Rights, but it is also a profoundly disillusioned document, in the best sense of that adjective. It stipulates all the worst impulses of humanity: toward repression, brutality, intolerance and fear. It couples an unbridled faith in the individual human being, redeemed time and again by his or her singular capacity for tenderness, pity and all the rest, with a profound disenchantment about groups of human beings acting as governments, court systems, armies, state religions and bureaucracies, unchecked by the sting of individual conscience and only belatedly if ever capable of anything resembling redemption.

In this light the Bill of Rights can be read as a classic expression of the teenage spirit: a powerful imagination reacting to a history of overwhelming institutional repression, hypocrisy, chicanery and weakness. It is a document written by men who, like teenagers, knew their enemy intimately, and saw in themselves all the potential they possessed to one day become him. We tend to view idealism and cynicism as opposites, when in fact neither possesses any merit or power unless tempered by, fused with, the other. The Bill of Rights is the fruit of that kind of fusion; so is the teenage imagination.

The imagination of teenagers is often � I'm tempted to say always � the only sure capital they possess apart from the love of their parents, which is a force far beyond their capacity to comprehend or control. During my own adolescence, my imagination, the kingdom inside my own skull, was my sole source of refuge, my fortress of solitude, at times my prison. But a fortress requires a constant line of supply; those who take refuge in attics and cellars require the unceasing aid of confederates; prisoners need advocates, escape plans, or simply a window that gives onto the sky.

Like all teenagers, I provisioned my garrison with art: books, movies, music, comic books, television, role-playing games. My secret confederates were the works of Monty Python, H. P. Lovecraft, the cartoonist Vaughan Bod�, and the Ramones, among many others; they kept me watered and fed. They baked files into cakes and, on occasion, for a wondrous moment, made the walls of my prison disappear. Given their nature as human creations, as artifacts and devices of human nature, some of the provisions I consumed were bound to be of a dark, violent, even bloody and horrifying nature; otherwise I would not have cared for them. Tales and displays of violence, blood and horror rang true, answered a need, on some deep, angry level that maybe only those with scant power or capital, regardless of their age, can understand.

It was not long before I began to write: stories, poems, snatches of autobiographical jazz. Often I imitated the work of my confederates: stories of human beings in the most extreme situations and states of emotion � horror stories; accounts of madness and despair. In part � let's say in large part, if that's what it takes to entitle the writings of teenagers to unqualified protection under the First Amendment � this was about expression. I was writing what I felt, what I believed, wished for, raged against, hoped and dreaded. But the main reason I wrote stories � and the reason that I keep on writing them today � was not to express myself. I started to write because once it had been nourished, stoked and liberated by those secret confederates, I could not hold back the force of my imagination. I had been freed, and I felt that it was now up to me to do the same for somebody else, somewhere, trapped in his or her own lonely tower.

We don't want teenagers to write violent poems, horrifying stories, explicit lyrics and rhymes; they're ugly, in precisely the way that we are ugly, and out of protectiveness and hypocrisy, even out of pity and love and tenderness, we try to force young people to be innocent of everything but the effects of that ugliness. And so we censor the art they consume and produce, and prosecute and suspend and expel them, and when, once in a great while, a teenager reaches for an easy gun and shoots somebody or himself, we tell ourselves that if we had only censored his journals and curtailed his music and video games, that awful burst of final ugliness could surely have been prevented. As if art caused the ugliness, when of course all it can ever do is reflect and, perhaps, attempt to explain it.

Let teenagers languish, therefore, in their sense of isolation, without outlet or nourishment, bereft of the only thing that makes it all bearable: knowing that somebody else has felt the way that you feel, has faced it, run from it, rued it, lamented it and transformed it into art; has been there, and returned, and lived, for the only good reason we have: to tell the tale. How confident we shall be, once we have done this, of never encountering the ugliness again! How happy our children will be, and how brave, and how safe!

Michael Chabon is the author of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2001.

Added Diesel Sweeties to the sidebar.
I know I will never bear the white-hot intensity of your love for music, Vaya.

In my case, out of the blue I'll start humming or singing a song in my head (or out loud when I'm in the shower -- doesn't everyone?), and then my conscious mind catches up and realises that the same song is playing on the radio or the PA system. Just somewhere in the background.

The corollary of this is that I get irritated whenever a riff or a sequence will set off a song, but then my conscious mind runs up and tells me that no, it's really another one. One of those hip-hop songs that oh-so-cleverly grafts new words onto an older song, or another lacklustre cover out to milk adolescents for money.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

What I like most about Gus van Sant's Elephant were the use of tracking shots throughout and the multiple character plots converging and diverging. In addition, it was pretty smart to depict the killers entering the school early in the movie. Suddenly the rest of the movie's banality is tinged uneasily with foreboding.

Just don't expect the film to have any answers. Gus van Sant's point is that there aren't any, and he does this by presenting all the characters except for the killers, in all their banality to the point of near-stereotyping. As for the killers, van Sant does play around with audience preconceptions, letting some apply but not all.

His point? Things happen for no reason whatsoever. Metaphysically depressing, technically excellent.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Better Living Through Online Personality Quizzes #27

professor x
You are Professor X!

You are a very effective teacher, and you are very
committed to those who learn from you. You put
your all into everything you do, to some extent
because you fear failure more than anything
else. You are always seeking self-improvement,
even in areas where there is nothing you can do
to improve.

Which X-Men character are you most like?
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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I used to keep detailed records of all my daily expenditures back in JC. Perhaps it's time I started again.

Picked up Dave Egger's You Shall Know Our Velocity at the local library. It feels good to fill my hours with fiction again.
Better Living Through Online Personality Quizzes #281

What Video Game Character Are You? I am Kung Fu Master.I am Kung Fu Master.

I like to be in control of myself. I dislike crowds, especially crowds containing people trying to kill me. Even though I always win, I prefer to avoid fights if possible. What Video Game Character Are You?

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Pink Panther is 40 years old this year. As part of the celebrations, Virgin has just released a compilation including remixes of Mancini's classic Pink Panther theme and chock full of lounge and bossa nova grooves from the likes of Fantastic Plastic Machine, Pizzicato Five, Fatboy Slim, Dimitri from Paris and Les Hommes. Take a listen: The Pink Panther's Penthouse Party.
Happy Belated Easter!

Went shopping for clothes yesterday, with Amanda and David tagging along (Thanks both of you, although I think the laughter you had at my expense was worth the time you spent :p).

The haul:

1) Shine OST. From a store that sells/rents CDs new and used. The OST was supposedly new but I suspect it's been used. Nice price anyway, and I like the movie a lot.

2) A t-shirt with the Kenninji Fujin and Raijin on it. Bargain!

3) Khaki cargo pants that were on sale. Was given a hideous F4 shopping bag to put it in. Fortunately I managed to trash that bag later after buying

4) A Graniph t-shirt.

I learnt two things:

1) My taste in clothes is more boring than I thought it was and

2) Retail therapy really does not work for me.

I prevaricate over every purchase and if sufficiently large, I will agonise over it for days afterwards. I don't know how I managed to build up this guilt complex over shopping, but it's there. And with all the horror stories about my peers asphyxiating under credit card debts, unpaid loans and low bank balances in a depressed economy, that may not necessarily be such a bad thing after all.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Anyone remember The Rocketeer? The movie wasn't bad at all, but for some reason audiences couldn't be bothered with the Golden Age, 1930s-40s setting. Disney let it die out.

This mini-bout of nostalgia was triggered by the little Kubrick figure of The Rocketeer I bought last night. Good detailing on the rocketpack, the jacket and especially the helmet which unfortunately is not removable.

Medicom also made a limited edition 12" Rocketeer figure. Quite interesting how the Japanese pick up on cool things that Americans neglect, and then some. ^_^

The last time I had a mini bout of The Rocketeer nostalgia was back in Chicago. I was browsing at Powell's and flipped through the graphic novel. Up till then, I didn't know the movie was based on the work of Dave Stevens. I didn't buy the book, but after I got home I wished I had. When I went back the next day it was gone.
Watched Hellboy last night with my bro. He'd called me at the last minute and I wanted to sleep more than 5 hours a night for a change. But I really wanted to see the movie and I'm glad I did. In any case I managed to make it to work on time.

Hellboy was great fun, even if the movie loses a bit of cohesion towards the end. Smart, snappy dialogue. Didn't dissolve into self-angst or over-sentimentality. Loved Ron Perlman's wry humour and one-liners, and Selma Blair is hot (brunette, long hair, bangs? /sigh). Lovecraftian monsters and generous Cthulu references. Interesting, if unimaginative villains.

I only wish I'd read the comics earlier :/ Damn my well-spent youth.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The Chemical Brothers have a new single out: Get Yourself High. The music video is awesomely funny:

"... the video is composed entirely of footage gleaned from the 1978 Chinese martial arts film Shaolin yu Wu Dang (�Two Champions of Death�) except that the material has been altered so that, in addition to swords and knives, the characters wield vinyl records, microphones and headphones as weapons and appear to be singing the lyrics of the song..."

You must watch it. Watch it now.
Watched The Passion of the Christ last night. I entered the cinema with hangups because I don't agree with Mel Gibson's very traditionalist view of Catholicism and I detest the methods by which the film was promoted here. Then after a while I realised that most of my fellow patrons might not be Christian and so to them this would be just another film. Reality check: The film is not the Gospel, and Jim Caviezel is no Jesus. No point getting angsty. I relaxed :)

The film is best seen as an adaptation of the Passion found in the real Gospels, and a bit of a loose one at that. A lot of it is fairly modern reasoning along the lines of: "Yeah, Jesus really loved his mum so he must have done this, she must have done that, Pontius must have did this etc etc." This explains in part the heavy emphasis on the mother-son relationship between Mary and Jesus, and the insertion of elements like Pontius's wife Claudia (shades of Julius Caesar here), the Devil skulking around, and the philosophical whitewashing of Pontius Pilate. I suppose these had to be in there to keep the movie interesting for modern moviegoers. Spiritual texts don't really translate well into crowd-pleasing blockbusters.

The film wasn't that anti-Semitic imho -- some effort was made to insert dissenting Jewish characters and give them some screen time, but Caiphas resembled a sneering WWF wrestler more than a High Priest. Good two-dimensionality there.

The digitally-altered hazel eyes were uncanny. Weirded me out. Having one of Jesus's eyes swollen shut early on was quite clever 'cos it forced the audience to focus on that one eye for the rest of the movie. And yes, it also paves the way for lots of looking scenes.

Add to the mix melodramatic acting (Judas gets lots of time to agonise over his betrayal), flashbacks with modern touches (an adult Jesus being playful with Mother Mary?), slow-mo overkill (pun intended!), a ponderous music score that has an erhu pop up when the Devil's onscreen and also morphs into a military march at the end, and did I mention the gratuitous slow-motion?

What I really want to know is: what does the Lord think of the movie?
Better Living Through Online Personality Quizzes #001

w00t! :D

:: how jedi are you? ::

Billie Holliday's birthday today.

...... Money, you�ve got lots of friends
Crowding round the door
When it's gone, spending ends
They don�t come no more......

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Why did I post that article? On the one hand it's sobering to know that no matter how horrible I feel, someone younger than I am is going through a finer meat-grinder. On the other hand, reading that article left me feeling helpless.
Sunday's edition of the Straits Times carried a feature on depressed teens. The writing is slightly alarmist but well-intentioned. I wish I could link it, but chances are by the time you come across this (if you ever do) the link will be broken.

Here it is anyway: Gen D: Depressed , deviant , disconnected

Probably the most important part of the article:

"... Most disconcertingly, the behavioural problems which used to beset a minority of 'youths on the fringe' or 'youths at risk' have today invaded the 'so-called moral majority' too.

Psychiatrists say a growing number of youths today suffer from one of the three Ds - depression, deviant behaviour or disconnectedness.

According to Dr Yeo, no longer are three-D sufferers predominantly from poorer or broken families without a father figure. In fact, many come from intact families with concerned, well-to-do parents.

Psychologist Felix Lim, who specialises in teen issues, says that a good number are 'rich but deprived children', the upgraded version of yesterday's latch-key kids. They return home daily to an empty bungalow, dog, chauffeur, maid and other paid employees of their parents, who are too busy earning big bucks outside.

He notes that many dual-income parents practise the 'token economy' at home: They try to buy their way into their children's good books, or incentivise good behaviour by giving them a 'cash bonus', the latest gadget or track shoes if they meet pre-set Key Performance Indicators.

'Just because it works for them at work, they think it will work at home. But the problem is a lack of consistent parenting. You need plenty of contact time to cultivate attitudes, values, beliefs in children. There is just no shortcut,' he says.

What is clear is that money, love and good intentions no longer buy immunity against a troubled adolescence. Even those who ace their studies or are school leaders are not exempt.

Mr Lim notes that achievement-focused top students become a target group for anorexia or bulimia, because they tend to displace their need for significance onto leadership roles, sports trophies or good grades.

The better they do, the poorer they tend to be at handling the 'loss of face' of failure when it happens. 'After all, this is a place where a person's worth is measured by his grades, the house he lives in or the cellphone he uses. Upkeeping standards is a very real pressure,' says Ms Chew.

And teen society today is an unforgivingly class-conscious one, as the recent hoo-ha over a Raffles Girls' School girl dating a neighbourhood school boy shows.

It does not help that many Singaporean parents are so protective that their children acquire a 'learnt helplessness' and fail to develop their own coping resources or a healthy adversity quotient, says Mr Lim.

That is one of the reasons why teen suicide rates are spiralling today, especially among young females aged 15 to 24 here.

According to psychiatrist and suicidologist Chia Boon Hock, youths take their own lives because of a combination of relationship problems and family, financial, social and school stresses.

Depression is also becoming as commonplace a malady as the common cold, notes Ms Chew. Having done profiling exercises on hundreds of secondary school students, she says a disturbing picture of Singapore's youth has emerged.

'Many are highly emotional, extroverted, open to trying anything new, hence very vulnerable. Despite being very high in anger, they have low focus, low motivation and a low sense of achievement. This combination is very scary, because if anything snaps, they cut or kill themselves,' she notes with a shudder.

According to Mr Lim, this outward expression of aggression, angst and apathy is symptomatic of an adolescent's emotionally fraught and highly distracted world. He has patients who come to his clinic declaring 'I hate my parents' or 'My mother is a bitch'.

But such defiant bravado, says Dr Yeo, is just a 'brittle front'. 'Deep down, they still desire parental approval but feel that they cannot be seen to need it. And family size being so small these days, they have no siblings to turn to,' he says.

So many 'cope' by hurting themselves through self-mutilation, starving, multiple suicide attempts and numbing themselves with drugs and alcohol.

Others, who crave emotional fulfilment in this mechanical age, desperately seek connections in sexual escapades or gangs.

Even among the 'good kids', school counsellors note a growing disconnectedness and disenchantment.

'For many of them, all that innate fire and spirit has been snuffed out in power struggles with overbearing adults. They end up disillusioned,' says Mr Lim.

These days, he and other psychologists are seeing more cases of dysthymia, a chronic low-mood disorder that persists for two years or more. Despite not having suffered any major depressive episodes, these youths appear listless, down and out, have low self-esteem and difficulty making decisions, and function below the base line.

Right into their 30s, they find it hard to hold on to jobs or relationships.

Mr Lim is candid that such stunted self-image and distorted self-identity problems take years of medication and therapy to fix. It is not easy to go back in time to get them re-attuned to society and in tune with themselves.

So he does not buy the cavalier theories that the three Ds are 'just a phase' which most teenagers will 'eventually grow out' of.

With more permanent scars and the high stakes of today's adolescent minefield, his question is: 'Will they grow out of all these well-adjusted, or mal-adaptive?'"
Better Living Through Online Personality Quizzes #493

Take the What Should Your New Year's Resolution Be? Quiz

Monday, April 05, 2004

Better Living Through Online Personality Quizzes #149

Click here to find out what robot you really are
It's a little pathetic, how I need a cup o' black liquid before I can be productive in the real world. Before that, my mind is in a near-catatonic state.

Was out late with Amanda and her friends last night. Dinner first at Billy Bomber's and then we all adjourned to Max Brenner's for chocolate chocolate chocolate.

I wonder if the staff there will let us in again. /chuckle

Amanda! Hope you had a good birthday!

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Hey! HMV loves Kill Bill. And admit it -- you do too.

Why do the Japanese get all the cool merchandise? Check out that t-shirt!

And why are the Japanese plugging Kill Bill Vol. 2 as a "love story"?
Happened across a Sembawang Music clearing stock sale on Friday evening while looking for wrapping paper. I hadn't seen a laserdisc for while before then. Wow -- does anyone still have LD players?

Picked up an old 2 CD compilation of music from films for cheap. It's by the BBC, so it has some class versus your generic, vanilla compilation. Specifically, it's music from films featured in Film 2000 with Jonathan Ross.

The annoying bit is: I can't play the damn CDs on my PC. Both CDs are supposed to come with their own CD player -- some form of rudimentary copy control measure I think -- but for some reason the software's not on either disc. All you get is an error message when you click on the button labelled: "Launch CD Player".

Ah well. It cost 5 dollars anyway.